Inherited from ancestors. Scientists understand why animals use the same color for different purposes
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Bright red can both serve as a signal for rapprochement, and warn that this animal is better to bypass the tenth road. Scientists figured out how it works.
Fashion in the animal kingdom can be terribly repetitive, with many species using the same colors to draw attention to themselves. However, the goals are different – researchers have found a relationship between the color of animals and what they mean, writes Science Alert.
Oklahoma State University evolutionary biologist Zachary Ambers and his University of Arizona colleague John Vince wondered what makes colors evolve to serve different purposes for different animals. For example, the bright crimson color of the northern cardinal male serves to attract the attention of partners and is a signal for rapprochement. At the same time, the bright red color of strawberry poison frogs, on the contrary, indicates that it is better to bypass them on the tenth road so as not to run into a portion of a powerful deadly toxin.
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During the study, scientists studied almost 2 thousand terrestrial vertebrates and classified their color as incoming or outgoing. As a result, they were able to find a curious relationship – scientists suggest that the traits that are observed today in species may be the result of their evolutionary history.
The researchers found that birds and lizards are descended from diurnal ancestors, while snakes and amphibians are descended from nocturnal ancestors. During the study, the scientists conducted two analyses: first, they studied the daytime and nighttime activity of the species, and secondly, they studied the daytime and nighttime activity of their ancestors. It turned out that there is no connection between the current way of life of animals and their color, however, there is an exclusively hereditary connection.
During the analysis, scientists found that most of the ancestors of animals were initially quite dull and simple, over time they changed their color to brighter shades. It is assumed that the brighter color helped the species to survive, and therefore it was they who passed on their genetic material to the next generations.
Scientists also found that colors like red, orange, yellow, and purple, in roughly equal proportions, are both signs of rapprochement for partners and warning signals. This rule does not work only with blue color – this color is more often associated in animals with mating, rather than a call to avoid danger.
According to Vince, the color of diurnal animals makes sense – bright colors are necessary to attract a partner. Along with this, the attention of predators can also be attracted, but the need for reproduction covers the risks for males. At the same time, females are duller, and therefore it is easier for them to hide from predators and save offspring. But for nocturnal animals, such signals are not at all important – what is the use of a bright color if you still cannot see it in the dark. Vince and a colleague found that bright colors among nocturnal animals have evolved even in species without eyes – apparently they serve as a signal to other species warning that this animal is better to be avoided and not disturbed, rather than to members of the same species. .